Centenarian Shyam Saran Negi, independent India’s first voter, yet again did not fail to keep his date with polling as he exercised his franchise in his home district Kinnaur.
The 102-year-old, who has never missed even a single election, on Sunday, participated in the festival of democracy as the state went to polls in the seventh phase of 17th Lok Sabha elections that were held along with six other states and one Union Territory.
He was brought to the polling station amidst much fanfare and playing of traditional local musical instruments from his home to the polling station by District Returning Officer (DRO) Gopal Chand, along with other officials.
A keen voter, he was accompanied by his family members that include his sons and daughters-in-law to the Model Polling Station at Kalpa -2, which is around half-a-kilometre away from his home.
The polling station where Negi cast his vote has been set up in a heritage building (1890) at Kalpa that houses a government school.
The district administration gave him a red carpet welcome, greeting him with traditional gaiety and the ambience resonated with the traditional local music.
Shyam Saran Negi’s daughter-in-law, Surma Negi, who accompanied him, told The Statesman over the phone that her father-in-law, despite the old age, made it a point not to miss voting this time too.
A voting enthusiast, Shyam Saran Negi, while talking to the media, exhorted the youth to come forward to vote and not waste the opportunity and their right to vote.
It always makes him happy whenever he gets an opportunity to vote, he maintained.
Negi has never ever missed any elections be it general, assembly and even Panchyati Raj elections, said Surma Negi.
Prior to this he had voted in the 2017 state assembly elections as well and was declared the ambassador of the Election Commission of India during the 2014 general elections.
Shyam Saran Negi, a retired teacher, is a native of Kalpa in Kinnaur district, around 255 km from Shimla.
He created a history of sorts by becoming the first to vote in the first Lok Sabha elections that were held on October 25, 1951, and ever since he has not missed an opportunity to vote.
DRO Gopal Chand, who is also the Deputy Commissioner of Kinnaur district said, “A celebrity in his own right, Shyam Saran Negi was accorded a warm welcome by the district administration. Around 11.00 am he cast his vote and the administration also ensured his return home with due honour.”